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Bally/Astrocade FAQ

Version 1.8

Created by Lance F. Squire 6/3/95 Updated 6/22/96
	Much Info taken from Arcadian news letters 11/5/82 to 10/31/84.

*	The existence of NEW or updated information will be denoted with a
vertical line "|" in the left border. Spelling & grammatical corrections will
NOT be marked. ;-)

	In order to keep this information as accurate & complete as possible
send any Corrections, Additions, or anything of interest, to me & I'll mention
you right here on the top! (No, Below this paragraph naturally.)

Thanks to:

G. Chance	For giving this FAQ a home! And providing a wonderful 
		service to all the curious among us!

Mike Curran	Former Esoterica play tester ;-) for more info on the Soccer cart.

Jay Fenton	For linking to us from his Personal Biography page!

Glenn Saunders  For asking some questions.

Brett Bilbrey	For a wealth of NEW knowledge. (Well, new to me anyway.)

Michael Garber	For the arcade name of Space Fortress.


	1) What is a Bally/Astrocade
	2) System Specifications
	3) Hardware & add-ons List
	4) Computer expansion
	5) Cassettridge/tape List
	6) Games written by users, slow and clunky?
	7) Publications of note
	8) People of Note
	9) Connecting to a monitor
	10) Joystick rewiring (Bally/Atari)
	11) Bally/Astro Basic
		Why only 1800 Bytes?
		Command list
		Keypad overlay
	12) Sources of Bally/Astrocade Stuff
	13) Closing


1) What is a Bally/Astrocade
	A short history

In 1978 Bally/Midway introduced a home video game system called the 
"Bally Professional Arcade". Due to "stiff competition" they withdrew the
system some time later. (Date anyone?) A group of users who had enjoyed the
system's games & learned its potential through the Basic Programming 
Cartridge got together & bought the system from Bally. They re-introduced it
in about 1981(?) as the "Bally Computer System". When you purchased this
system they gave you a Basic Programming Cart FREE.

The New company's name was Astrovision. In about 1982 it changed its name to
Astrocade & now labeled its system as the Astrocade. The system continued 
till about 1985(?)

2) System Specifications

	Res.:	 	True 160x102  Basic 160x88
	Colours:  	8*		 2
	Graphic type:	Bitmap, 2 plane bit-packed
	Palette: 	32 Colours 8 intensities  256 total
	CPU:	  	Z80
	Speed:	  	3.579Mhz
	ROM:	  	8K
	Ram:	  	4K
	Cart ROM: 	8K
	Expansion:	64k total
	Sound:		3 voice +Noise & Vibrato
	Ports:		4 controller 1 expansion 1 light pen

* The bitmap structure of the Bally actually only allows for 4 colour 
  settings. However, through the use of 2 colour palettes and a left/right
  boundary control byte, you could have the left section of screen (lets call
  this the play field) use 1 set of colours while the right side (Info field)
  used an entirely different set of colours

All versions of the system were physically the same except for the name plate.
The Astrocade version had small changes in the internal BIOS to display the
longer name on the built in menu screen.

Usually seen in Black with wood grain sides & gold trim there apparently was
a beige/white version advertised. The case measured 15" wide, 10 3/4" deep
and 4 3/4" high. Under a smoke coloured lid that covered the back half of
the unit, when viewed from above, was the built in cart & overlay storage
bin with slots for 15 carts & 14 overlays. The front half sported a 24 key
calculator pad, (where overlays went when used) a reset button and a spring
loaded cartridge port, labeled "Insert Cassette", with Eject button.

Diagram:			Top view

 R/F cable+ | 1   2    3           4            5    6   7
       |||                                                    |||
       |||                                                    |||
       |||                         8                          |||
       |||                                                    |||
       ||\                             ======9======         / ||
       || |-------------------------------------------------|  ||
       || |                ___________________________      |  ||
       || |                |.... | _________________ |      |  ||
       || |                |.... | |               | |      |  ||
       || |                |.... | |               | |      |  ||
       || |                |.... | |_______________| |      |  ||
3/4 s->|| |                |.... | __    _____       |      |  ||
       |||                 |.... | R-    Eject       |       | ||
       |||                 ---------------------------       | ||

1. On/Off switch
2,3,5 & 6. Controller ports 1,2,3 & 4 respectively
4. Expansion port break out panel
7. Light pen port break out panel
8. Smoked storage bay cover
9. Name plate
s. channel select switch
R. Reset button

Unlike MOST other video game systems, the Bally's cartridges do not protrude
from the port. Instead they lay flat. The cartridges were designed like
audio cassettes. Being the same width, height, and thickness as a cassettes
opening. Where the write protect tabs for an audio cassette would be are
two openings for the Eject button to hold on to. Where the tape in an
audio cassette is exposed, there is an opening where the pins in the Bally's
"Cassette" port press against the single sided board in the Cartridge.

For this reason I personally like to call them "Cassettridges". To load
a cart into the unit, you slide the open end in over a spring loaded guide
then press down until the Eject spikes latch into the holes. You then press
Reset to see the new selections on the menu. 

Also Unlike MOST systems you were instructed to load carts WITH the power
ON! (In the 14 Years I have owned my system this has never produced a 

All Bally/Astrocades came with an on screen menu system that displayed the
4 built in programs (2 games 1 calculator 1 doodle) + any games on the
inserted Cassette. 

The Bally's Controllers were also unique. They consisted of a large pistol
grip, appropriately contoured and knurled, a TRIGGER (NOT a button),a badge
on both sides with the BALLY label, (See BALLY fitness ;-) SAME BALLY).
Plus a brown knob on top that functioned as both a paddle & an extremely
short throw joystick. On the top of the knob is a gold plate with 
controller number 1-4. On the Astrocade the Bally logo was removed but the
badge spots are still there.

To date I have never found a controller or joystick more responsive than
the Bally's. I actually use a modified Bally controller on my ST's, Amiga
and VCS.

The Bally controller does have 1 major weak spot that I have found. The wire
to the trigger usually falls off as it's extremely difficult to get the 
trigger spring contacts hot enough to bond with the solder. After the 5th
resolder I actually placed the springs on an electric burner till the solder
melted, shut down the burner and placed the wire into the pool of solder. 
I have NEVER had to fix my controller again!

3) Hardware & add ons
Hardware Known to exist

Name				Comments
Extra Controllers		Usually labeled 3 & 4

Audio Cassette interface	for use with Original Bally Basic

Blue Ram			16K or 32K Ram expansion with ZIF connector
				for adding keyboard or other peripherals.
				Usually accompanied by a Blue Ram Extended
				Basic. allowing access to extra ram.

|R&L 64K Ram Board		Expansion board sold with NO ram on it but
				all the necessary hardware support. Use or Blue 
|				Ram Extended Basic or Hot Rod Bally Basic 
|				Recommended. See R&L Below.

Viper 1				16K computer add under with keyboard.
				Optional 4 RS-232 ports.

Viper 5				16K or 32K Computer add under. As above.

Astrocade Arcade style		Styled Like a real Arcade machine This
	Game system 		display cabinet is beautiful! Bottom section
	display Cabinet!	Features glass door & racks to hold the
				Many cartridge boxes the store would need.

Light Pen			Comes with Creative Crayon cart.
				Brett owns one! (but not the cart...)

Hardware Hoped to exist (Can anyone confirm release)

Name				Comments
Viper Z-Grass System		Complete computer add under. Features:
				64K Ram, 32K ROM, keyboard, 2 RS-232s
				320x204 colour graphics,
				3 channel Stereo sound,
				4 channel DD 5.25 drive controller
				8231 Math Processor
				Z-Grass programming language, C/PM compatable.

4)Computer Expansion?
	Alternative Engineering Corp. contracted to create the Z-Grass
ad-under, decided it was in everyone's best interest to release the unit 
them selves. In August 198?(5) they sent an order form to anyone who had 
ever shown interest in such a device on the Arcadian mailing list. The units
were then to be made on an on order basis. Unfortunately I being a kid at 
the time had no funds to send my self, so I ordered the Manual, offered for 
people to determine if they actually wanted the system. It took over a year
(I think) to receive my manual. If any units were produced they were surely
in extremely limited quantities. Probably only those who ordered the unit it
self know for sure.

(If ANYONE has or has seen one of these I want to KNOW!)

4b) R&L Memory Expansion

	 The brief history of our 64K RAM board product began in 1979 while I was
employed by Midway Mfg.  The company, a division of Bally, offered its
employees a discount on the purchase price of the Home Video game system, I
couldn't resist.  After fiddling with the Bally Basic (Rusty is still a
professional Basic developer) for a while we decided this system would
probably draw a significant hobbyist following.  We felt the need to develop
a solution to the 1800 byte RAM limitation.  First we lobbied the memory
manufactures to produce a device that would share the pin configuration of the
27xx series EPROMs (now the JEDEC standard).  In early 1981 we received some
samples of the 2016 2Kx8 RAM, and immediately began layout of a board that
could be placed under the Bally unit and expand the memory space to 64K.
 With these new RAMs one could develop a program in the RAM then clone it to
EPROM, either device could be plugged into the same board.  In 1982 we
learned about the fickle nature of the hobbyist market, at our local Bally
Users Group, user were more interesting in copying the latest games than in
purchasing a development aid.  When we learned of the Blue RAM we slashed
our price and advertised in the Arcadian newsletter.  Sales didn't warrant
further investment in this project.  We still have boards and a limited
supply of the 2Kx8 RAMs.  (

5) Cassettridge/Tape List
Name				Comments
Built in

Gunfight			Colour version of Boot Hill (Perfect!)

Checkmate			Game that TRON Light Cycles is based upon.
				0 players = demo

Calculator			5 function, 10 memory, "Printing Calculator"
				Stores a video papertape of 92 entries

Scribbling			Doodle program. 0 players gives kaleidoscope

Action/Skill Series
2001	280 ZZZAP/Dodgem	Like Night Driver & any vertical racer

2002	Seawolf/Missile		2 variations of target shooting

2003	Panzer Attack/Red Barron
				2 player Tank battle & 2 Player Dogfighting
2004	Brickyard/Clowns	Breakout/Circus (Very well done)

2005	Star Battle		a simple 'star wars' like game that two 
				people played in a 'trench' like setting. You
				could move up or down the trench while moving
				around to try and get the best attack angle
				on your opponent. Good sounds, but as many of
				the games of that time, very simple. (Not 
				that simple is bad, it was fun to play a 
				simple game that you did not have to memorize
				50 functions to play - like Mortal Kombat.)

2009	Astro Battle		Space Invaders!!! Only they will LAND!

2010	Dogpatch		2 player skeet(can) shooting

2011	Galactic Invasion	Actually Says "Galaxian"!!! when on menu
				Very good conversion.

2012	Space Fortress		Better than the original! Extremely FAST!
|				Arcade name: Space ZAP! (Michael Garber)

2014	Grand Prix/Demolition Derby	Racing & Drive around and crash into
						other cars for points!

2015	Pirates Chase		A grid of 'pieces o' eight' (something like 
				10x15) where one or more players tried to 
				gobble them up with a bad guy that would 
				chase you around. Sort of a Pac Man without 
				the walls. (Brett)

2017	The Incredible Wizard	Wizard of WOR

2018	Solar Conqueror		Like Asteroids

2019	Cosmic Raiders		Like Defender

2020	Missile Attack		"never made production" They may have put it
				on the list anticipating working out a deal 
				to buy ICBM Attack from me. (Brett)

Sports Series

3001	Tornado Baseball, Tennis,	2 player only
	Hockey and Handball	Like the Old PONG games with little men
				Instead of paddles. Baseball is decent.

3002	Football		2 or 4 player

3003	Demolition Derby/Grand Prix	Moved to 2014

3004	Drag Race/Desert Fox	Released??? [I saw a proto, but I never saw
				it at a point that would be worth selling.

3005	Bally Pinball		Label change with release of the Astrocade.
	Astrocade Pinball	2 versions on 1 cart. Very good play!

3006	Bowling			Brett has one. "Not impressive"

|3007	Soccer		As to the soccer cart. It never made production. 
|				I was talking to my dad about it and it never made
|				it because of some lawsuit or something where the 
|				guy who made it was battling Astrocade over who 
|				would have the right to the royalties I think. We 
|				did have one, but unfortunately when my mom did 
|				some cleaning it was tossed with all the rest of 
|				the carts. That was like a keeper too, because 
|				there were only 2 or 3 ever made I think. 
Educational Series
4001	Bingo Math/Speed Math	

4002	Letter Match/Spell 'N Score

4003	Music Maker

4004	Biorhythm

4005	Creative Crayon		"never made production"?  colouring book?

4005P	Creative Crayon W/ Light Pen	"		"

Strategy Series
5001	Amazing Maze/
	Tic-Tac-Toe		Can you do the maze before the CPU?

5002	Blackjack/Poker/
	Acey-Ducey		Good card games

|5004	Conan the Barbarian	The game is very cheesy. You have a guy with
|				 a sword that you can move via the joystick and the
|				 sword move when you twist the knob.
|				 (Unfortunatly some of the information was lost as 
|				 my mail reader can't save lines more than 2 screens
|				 long. )

5005	Artillery Dual		Can you shoot over that hill and hit your
				buddy before he gets you???

Functional Series
6002	Bally Basic		Basic programming on your Bally Professional
				Arcade. Needed Audio interface to save to

6004	Bally Basic		Originally released under the BALLY label.
	Astrocade Basic		Either version has the audio cassette
				interface built into the cart its self.

????	Dealer Demo		I have the dealer demo, it does some 
				interesting things. Like playing checkmate at
				10 times speed. It also has a Bach fugue 
				programmed in that plays in three part sound.

				(An interesting note is that although the 
				demo cartridge plays three part sound, it was
				not till I wrote the three part sound player
				that anyone made three part music, either for
				a cartridge or for basic games (like George 
				Moses).) (Brett)

Independent Carts

Muncher (Ltd. edition)		Originally Bally's version of Pacman. Not
	(Esoterica)		released by Bally due to Atari/Odyssey^2
				Law suite. Near perfect translction! The sound is dead
				ON, The graphics are mared ONLY by the low resolution
				of the Bally screen.

Treasure Cove (Spectre Systems)	Collect the treasure from the bottom of the
(Distributed by Esoterica)	Sea, watch out for poisonous fish! Featured 
				256 colors concurrent on screen with three 
				part music. To date, the only game that ever
				did this. (Brett)

Blast Droids (Esoterica)	Like Asteroids

Machine Language Manager	Write programs in Z80 Machine language
(Bit Fiddlers)			

Ms. Candy Man (L&M)		Ms. Pac Man type concept, but different.

Sneaky Snake (New Image)	Centipede clone

Sea Devil (L&M)			Protect your food stores from under sea
				creatures & invading divers!

MAZEMAN	(Dave Carson)		Pac-Man type game with 12 different Mazes
				No Sound. All Game play?

ICBM Attack (Spectre Systems)	A missile command rip off. but with a twist. 
				Instead of the missiles coming in from the 
				sky, a plane would fly by and drop the 
				missiles. You could hit the plane or the 
				missiles, and their were three bases to fire
				from and 6 cities to protect. Sold with a 
				home manufactured Keypad that featured a TRUE
				XY positional joystick, 'pinball' like 
				flipper buttons on the side, and a keypad for
				entering data. Sadly, I do not have one left
				(we sold them ALL). (Brett)

Tape Software			Load these into Astrobasic to play.
-------------			-----------------------------------

Chicken! (Bit Fiddlers)		Frogger variant

L&M Soft

1. Claim Jumper/
	River City Gambler

2. Cosmic Saucer Battle/
	The Black Lagoon

3. Bombardier/Meteoroid

4. Target/Mind Bender

5. Search & Destroy

6. Star Base 2000/
	Space Quest 2001

7. Phantom Star Fighters/
	Space Checkers

8. Crazy Ball/
	Ayatollah dart board	An update would be the Husein Dart board ;-)

9. The Mummy's Treasure/
	Galactic War 2002

10. Coyote-Roadrunner Desert race/
	Atom Smasher			Does Warner Bros. Know about this?

11. Sink the U-Boat/
	Rescue Air Drop

12. Mission: Impossible/
	3-D Tic-Tac-Toe

13. The Fox & The Hare/
	Space Sleuth

14. Alien Invasion I & II

15. Secret of Pellucitar	Find your way through the maze.

16. Exitor's Revenge		Space invaders with a few twists

17. Nautilus			Sequel to Exitor's

18. Candy Man			Pac Man but different.

Wave Makers
Max (Robot from Space)/
	Horse Race

Clue/Flying Ace			Fly your TV at on coming biplanes.

Maze Race/Obstacle Course/
	Space Chase

Slot Machine/Perversion		Perversion?!?!?

Music Composer/Yahtzee		Does Parker Bros. Know about this? :-)

Mouse in the Hat/Speed Math/
	Note Match

Guitar Course/Tune/

	Obstacle Course Tournament

Pack-Rat I & II

Lookout for the Bull

Whiz Quiz			Trivia game

Castle of Horror/
	Four Famous Freebies

Monkey Jump/Gong the Kong	Donkey Kong derivatives

Collision Course		Same as Arcade game of same name! 

Character Analysis

Dungeons of Dracula		Wrap your chain around the monsters &
				complete the mazes.

L.T. (Little Terrestrial)	Based on the movie E.T.  
				"1000 times better than Atari E.T."

Gate Escape			Lady bug clone

Tiny Arcade

T100	Space Gauntlet/

T101	Omega Valley/		Prevent 18 ships from landing in 3 valleys
	Astro terror		or defend your space station from missiles

T102	Viperian/Cruncher	

T103	Vindicator/		Looks to be a defender clone
	Art Show & Fire Works

T104	Gamma Wars		Space invaders?

T105	Beep!			Maze game.(or is it Pengo-ish?)

HARD soft.

Gamepak G1
	Caterpillar		Centipede clone
	Tic Tac Tollah		Tic Tac Toe that Cheats
	The paper Chase		Based on those "Don't squeeze the sharmin" 
	Micro Pac		Pac-Man clone
	Galactic Hitchhiker	"Three dimensional graphics"

GM (Gorge Moses Co.)

Make your Arcade Sing series:

Tape 1:	Bach's 15 two part inventions

Tape 2:	27 Christmas Carols

Tape 3: Scott Joplin Ragtime Classics

Tape 4: Screen Ram 3 Voice Music Assembler

Tape 5: Sinfonia to Cantata 29 By Bach

Beatles Greatest Hits
and Flight Simulator

Other tapes:

Tape 6: Home Budget Keeper

Life/Nuke the !$&!		...should read "Life/Nuke the Bastard." 
Life/Soundvision		Nuke the bastard was a simple game that Jay 
Life/Macromind Director	Fenton wrote. It later became a Soundvision,
				then Macromind Director demo. (Brett)


Treasure Island/		Can you figure out the Map before your Pal?
	Fox & hound		

Wildcatter/			Can you successfully run an oil company?
	Bomb Squad		Defuse the Bomb!

The Great American Jigsaw/	Put the U.S. of A. together.
	Big City Slick		US city quiz

Garbersville/			Missile command?
	Ten Pins		Bowling.

Starship Command/		Star Trek theme.
	Mini Golf

Road Toad			Frogger

Super Slope			Like Atari's Alpine Ski coin op

Hangman/Home Budget Keeper


6) Games written by users slow and clunky?

	Although It's true that games written entirely in Bally/Astro basic
were prone to be slow and somewhat Clunky, Most of the companies selling
programs quickly began to use Machine Language routines from the Built-in
games to power their games. This type of hybrid programming produced good
results with the limited space available in the unit. Others took to using
complete Machine language coding for their games. By hiding the ML code
at the bottom of the screen, by reducing the vertical resolution it was
possible to have 4-8 colour Cart Quality games on tape.

7) Publications Of Note:

Service Manual  PA-1		Parts lists, Schematic Diagrams, ETC.

Peek N Poke Manual		Useful information for the Basic Programmer.

On-Board ROM Subroutines	Helpful for improving your ML programs.

Handbook of Hardware		Source of most of the programming support
& Software   AKA		for most of the arcade quality games made
The Nutting Manual		for the Bally/Astrocade systems

Arcadian Newsletters		From which a wealth of information can be

Astrocade Underground		A news letter by ABC Hobby Craft. Contents

8) People Of Note:
	These people had a lot of influence in what you saw/heard or read
about the Bally/Astrocade systems

Robert Fabris	For the Arcadian news letters. Without which this FAQ would
		be a few pages shorter! 

Bob Ogdon	Programmed "Bally Pin", "Brickyard/Clowns" and probably

Scot Norris	Credited with most of the music & sound effects on the
		various carts.

Jay Fenton	Creator of the Bally BASIC cart! Others? NOW has a Home
		Page of his own on the Net.

Gorge Moses	For continuously poking around with the Bally's sound chip
		and writing various music makers & other programs for the
		Basic enthusiasts.

Dave Nutting	For having something to do with the creation of this system
		and writing the Handbook of Hardware & Software. Referred to
		by some as The Nutting Manual.

Brett Bilbrey	For writing the three voice music routine, the ONLY 256 
		colour game, and some new info here

9) Connecting to a monitor

	Yes, you can connect your Bally/Astrocade to a composite monitor.
Unfortunately the method described in the pages of the Arcadian (V5 #8 P129)
only gives a monochrome output. 

	First you will have to open your machine. Not to worry you can't 
void any warranties as there isn't one anymore! ;-) However I cannot take
responsibility for what YOU do under the hood. A little soldering will be
required, but NOT near major parts.

	Now that you have the cover off. Only the TOP please. you will notice
on the left (the front of the machine Facing you) an RF box.

	Lift the left edge & pull out to the left. There are now a row of 8
large square metal pins coming off the motherboard. For the sake of this
job we will number them from front to back 1 to 8. solder a 300 ohm resister 
between pin 1 and the shield. Now get 2 single ended RCA cables. Solder 
their shield wires to the shielding. Solder the center of the Video cable to
pin 1. Solder the Audio cable to pin 3. Be sure to attach them close enough
to the board to allow the RF box to be replaced.

	Replace the RF box & close up your machine. You're ready to go!


	If you don't really want new cables coming out of strange places in 
your machine You might try what I did. I mounted a 5 pin din connector to 
the back left corner of the case bottom. Fit's nicely if installed with the
mounting holes 45 from horizontal. Wire to this and use a Commodore 64 
monitor cable to connect.

	This allows you to remove the cable for storage, & is virtually 
invisible when not in use.

Din Pinout:              O---NC--O
		Video-----O     O----Audio

	Thanks to the people at Active Surplus, and Brett Bilbrey I now have
a complete pinout list for the RF box inside the Bally/Astrocade systems! 
Pins will be numbered as above.

		Pin	Tech		Comment
		 8	GND		Ground
		 7	B-Y		Blue-Luma
		 6	R-Y		Red-Luma
		 5	Chrom Bias	Chroma no sync??? Guessing.
		 4	Chrom 3.57Mhz	Chroma with Sync??   "
		 3	Sound		Sound
		 2	+12V		Power for RF
		 1	Video		Luma + sync.

	Any techno whizzes that can fill in the ????s or gets a full colour
RGB video working please let me know. I will try myself some time Next year.

Note from Brett: The 'video' is really just the luma ('Y') portion of the 
video signal, the chroma is made up of the Red minus the luma, and the Blue
minus the luma. With this, you have enough information to reconstruct RGB 
information. The reason Y, R-Y, B-Y signals are used is they conserve 
bandwidth. The chroma signals can be half the bandwidth of the luma and 
still maintain the full signal content. High-end broadcast digital tape 
machines use this format and it is called 4:2:2 sampling. As far as being 
able to provide you with a circuit, I don't have the time to play 
(sorry), but it is not hard.

10) Joystick Rewiring

	As I indicated earlier I use a rewired Bally controller on other
systems. There are 2 ways to do this. 1) remove the existing cable and use
a joystick extension cable to rewire.(Ok if you don't need to use it with
the Bally any more) or 2) make a translation plug or "Gender Bender" of

	Those wishing to keep the knob function should note that the Bally
uses a different restive value for the pot than Atari/Commodore. To this
end I actually removed the resistive board from the Bally pot & replaced 
with 1 from an Atari Paddle. (Tricky but doable)

	It's also possible to wire an Atari/Commodore joystick to replace
a Bally/Astrocade one. However I'm not sure how to include the Knob 
function. In anycase the important wiring chart is Below.

	Bally/Astrocade				    Atari
	Controller port				Joystick port

	1. Trigger				1. Up
	2. Right				2. Down
	3. Left					3. Left
	4. Down					4. Right
	5. Not Connected			5. Paddle B
	6. 50K Pot (Knob)			6. Fire button
	7. Ground				7. +5v
	8. +5v					8. Ground
	9. Up					9. Paddle A

			     1 2 3 4 5	(Looking at Plug end)
			      6 7 8 9

11) Bally/Astro Basic

	As you may have noticed above there are 2 versions of the Basic
Cartridge, and possibly 3 Labels. So what's the difference & why should I

The original Bally Basic is a robust & serviceable programming language. The
only complaints could be the extra purchase of an audio cassette interface.
The package came with a ring bound manual & Tutorial. The "Basic Expansion
Kit" included a tape library pak with some programming demos, and the audio
cassette interface. The interface saved data at 300 baud.

The Second release of Bally Basic, later called Astrocade Basic, Had the tape
interface built in! The speed of the interface was also increased to 2000
baud. This made the Old Bally Demo tapes virtually useless, but allowed
more data to be stored on a tape & shorter load times! There is a translation
program available for those owning BOTH the Interface and the NEW basic.

For the sake of ease of identification the news letters & Tape manufactures
referred to any Basic Cart with the built-in Audio cassette interface as
AstroBasic or AB for short.

Other new features to Astro Basic were the introduction of Music Processor
Commands, allowing direct control of the sound chip without using the memory
consuming port access array. 

Why only 1800 Bytes?

	Q: Why with 4K of Ram does the Bally/Astrocade only get about 1800
Bytes of program space, when a PET or TRS-80 had a lot more?

	A: The Graphics! Both the PET and TRS-80 use character based graphics
and were only B&W. The Bally/Astrocade uses Bitmaped graphics in 4 colours.

	Lets look at the PET first. 40 columns by 25? rows equals 1000 Bytes
used for screen display. This leaves 3096 minus operating expense (say 16
Bytes or more). With the TRS-80, 64x25?=1600 Bytes leaving 2496 minus
operating expense.(BTW within 2 months My TRS-80 got a RAM expansion!)

	Now the Bally. 160x102x4, 160 pixels at 4 colours a pixel(2 Bits) =
40 Bytes, (But Astro Basic only gets 2 colours! Ya, Ya, I'll get back to
that.) 40x102=4080 Bytes leaving *16 BYTES!* That IS the operating Expense! 

----------------------->*THERE IS NO FREE MEMORY!!!*<------------------------

The Wizardry of Jay Fenton......
		or How to get 1800 Bytes out of 0!

	This must have been the question when Mr. Fenton took to programming
the original Bally Basic Cart. The answer IS use every other bit for code.
This would leave a terrible mess on the screen, and it does. So you hide it!
Set & keep the colour palette so Code+Graf=Grafcolour NoCode+Graf=Grafcolour
Code+NoGraf=Background and NoCode+NoGraf=Background. Or simply Colour1&2 are
always the same, as are Colour 3&4. If you have a Bally/Astrocade you can
set &(9)=80 and half the screen will show the program underneath.

As this is not the place for a tutorial of Bally/Astro Basic, I shall simply
include the entire list of Astro Basic commands. For those who have the cart
and no manual to try out, and those familiar with other Basics to marvel at!

Astro Basic Commands:

Basic Statements & Commands

BOX X,Y,A,B,1			Draw a box at position X,Y of Width A and
				Height B, Mode 1
				Modes available: 1 Foreground Colour
						 2 Background Colour
						 3 Reverse box (xor)
						 4 Invisible (Useful?)

LINE X,Y,1			Line to X,Y, mode 1 (See above) from last
				Pixel location. Use BOX, XY or mode 4
				to set start location.

CLEAR				Clears screen. Not memory.

FOR/TO/STEP/NEXT		Same as any For/Next loop function

IF				NO THEN E.G.: IF A=5GOTO20 is not only valid
				but actually preferred to save ram!!!

INPUT A				Wait for Keypad Input
INPUT "HOW MANY?"A		Prints message & waits for input

LIST				AS all Basics
LIST ,5				List the FIRST 5 basic lines
LIST 100			List starting at line 100
LIST 100,5			Start at line 100 list next 5 lines

PRINT "A"			Print Character A
PRINT A				Print Value of A
PRINT #A,B			Print A spaces then B value

GOTO A				Goto line number A 
GOSUB 100			Gosub line 100
RETURN				Return to GOSUB

RND(A)				Generate number between 1 and A

RUN				Execute program

General Functions

ABS(A)				Absolute Value of A

CALL(A)				Goto assembly routine at A

RM				Remainder of last division

SM=A				Scroll Mode A
				Modes:	0 Normal
					1 No Scroll
					2 Clear screen, Cursor at bottom
					3 Clear screen, Cursor at top
					4 Auto Pause. press key to continue

STOP				Stop program here

SZ				SiZe of available programming space

XY				Location of last Box or LINE command

PX(X,Y)				Is PiXel on or off?

Input Output Functions

JX(1)				Joystick 1 horizontal position -0+
JY(1)				Joystick 1 Vertical Position 0
TR(1)				Trigger for Joy 1

KN(1)				Knob (Paddle) position for Joy 1

A=KP				Wait for key press, store ASCII in A

TV=A				Display ASCII character A to TV

MU=A				Play MUsical Note value A

MU="A"				Play same note as character A
				(All characters in Bally Basic Produce a
				 Tone when displayed unless NT=0)

FC				Foreground Colour

BC				Background Colour

NT				Note Time, Duration of note play

CX				Cursor X position

CY				Cursor Y position

Tape Commands

:PRINT				Save Program/Variables & Screen to tape

:PRINT @(0),100			Save contents of @ array 0-99

:INPUT				Load program from tape

:INPUT @(0),100			Load data into @ array locations 0,99

:LIST				Check stored program against memory.
				Used to confirm saves.

:RUN				Load & execute ML programs

Punctuation and Operators

+,-,Multiply and Divide symbols	Standard math functions

;				Separate multiple statements on same line

,				Continue printing on same line.
				E.g.: 10 PRINT "A",
				      20 PRINT "B"
				Gives  AB

. 				REM statement

#				NOT equal to

B=%(A)				PEEK A,B

%(A)=B				POKE A,B

@(N)				First array in Bally Basic

*(N)				Second Array Astro Basic Only

&(N)				Read/write port N

Down Arrow			Stop ALL sounds

Music Processor Commands		Astro Basic ONLY

MO				Master Oscillator Freq.

NM				Noise Mode

NV 				Noise Volume NM must be 1

VR				Vibrato Range NM must be 0

VF				Vibrato Frequency

TA TB TC			Tone A,B or C

VA VB VC			Volume A,B or C

Error Messages

WHAT?				Syntax error

SORRY				Out of Memory

HOW?				Catch all Error Code
				E.G.: GOTO 50	No line 50     HOW?
				    GOSUB A   A=10 NO line 10  HOW?
				    NEXT Y      NO FOR Y       HOW?

Bally/Astro Basic Overlay

Most keys on the keypad have 5 functions. Except for the 4 bottom keys which
are your shift keys.

Default Values:

	GO	Pause	Halt	Divide 
	7	8	9	Multiply
	4	5	6	-
	1	2	3	+
	Space	0	Erase	=
	green 	red	blue	WORDS(gold)

Green Shift:

	Blank	blank	blank	blank
	A	D	G	J
	M	P	S	V
	Y	<-	up aro	&
	$	<	(	#
	GREEN	red	blue	WORDS(gold)

Red Shift:

	Blank	/	blank	[
	B	E	H	K
	N	Q	T	W
	Z	'	.	@
	,	"	;	%
	green 	RED	blue	Words(gold)

Blue Shift:

	Blank	\	blank	]
	C	F	I	L
	O	R	U	X
	!	->	dwn aro	*
	require_once($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/_includes/page_build.php');
?>	)	:
	green	red 	BLUE	WORDS(gold)

WORDS shift (GOLD):

	Go+10	blank	RUN	LIST
	blank	INPUT	blank	PRINT
	green	red	blue	WORDS(GOLD)

I realize that this format may not be the best to work from. If you devise
a more usable & understandable format Please send it to me.

12) Sources for Bally/Astrocade Stuff
	Well, The usual yard sales & thrift shops. If you can't find 
anything there. (Not much luck here.) You could try those listed below.

	I neither endorse nor condemn the services of these parties. I merely
list them for those whom may wish to acquire systems, carts or other related
paraphernalia. (Usual legal crap ;-))

Jerry G		Jerry G Visionaries

Steven Tucker

	These gentlemen	carry a range of systems and carts for most of the
Classic systems. Drop them a line & they'll tell you what they have in stock!

Dale		R&L Enterprises 

	Still has 64K expansion boards, Memory chips & Hot Rod Bally Basic for sale.

13) Closing

	All of the information in this FAQ is as accurate as I have info for.
If there are any errors omissions or other things of note that belong here
please let me know so I can expand & enhance this FAQ. No special formatting
is necessary, I'll sort it out & plug it in! ;-)

If anyone is interested, I have a number of Basic program listings here from
the Arcadian news letters. Although I'm uncertain of the Legalities involved
in reproducing this material(Mr. Robert Fabris Did smartly (c) every page!)
I would like to hear if anyone would be interested in reprints of the
listings or preprogrammed tapes.

Whether I actually DO this will depend mostly on the response & my available
time. It takes a long time to type a 59 line program into a 4x6 keypad!

	Also If anyone Knows Mr. Fabris (or anyone else associated with the
Bally/Astrocade) I'd like to talk with them & possibly include some of there
information here or in an additional source.

Lance F. Squire		Web
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